By Steve Robinson | January 31, 2010 - 1:23 pm
Posted in Category: Normal West HS, Pekin Daily Times, Pekin HS

BasketballNORMAL – Following Pekin Community High’s game against Normal West High here Saturday night, Coach Dave Mott said his team played a team he described as being “long and athletic.”

While that may describe the members of the team, in some ways, it also described the game between the Dragons and the Wildcats itself – Normal West showed athleticism in their scoring, thus making the game a long one for the Dragons, who lost the non-conference contest, 49-36.

“(West’s) tall guys all could shoot threes,” Mott said.

In fact, Austin Stewart, Bradley Hallstein, Tyler Bell, Taylor Scheuermann each contributed at least one three each to the contest, with Stewart’s 21 points, including one trey leading the Wildcats on the night. Bell followed in double digits, with 15 points.

“We did not do a very good job of locating Stewart and Bell on the arc, even though we knew they could shoot it (from there) very well,” Mott said.

“But let’s face it: they were tall, and in spots, very athletic, and I think that wore us down,” Mott said.

Pekin DragonsAn exchange of treys opened the contest with West’s Bell firing the first salvo to open the game at 6:49, followed by Caleb Huss’ 3-point reply 30 seconds later. Pekin’s defense occupied the paint enough to force West to employ outside shots, in a quarter that ended with the Wildcats owning a 9-6 lead going into the second quarter.

Aaron King’s two baskets at the beginning of the second quarter helped Pekin pull in front of West, 12-11 with 6:10 in the second quarter, but a three by Stewart at 3:43 until halftime pushed the Wildcats forward, 18-16, on their way to a 22-17 halftime lead.

Stewart scored three baskets for West (14-8) fairly quickly almost from the beginning of the third quarter, pushing West in front 29-21. A trey by Bell, followed by Taylor Scheuermann’s two free throws helped push West toward a 42-23 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Mott installed fresh troops in the fourth quarter for Pekin (6-15), to try giving younger players floor time while attempting to cut the deficit. Nathan Taphorn and Tom Lohmann made the most of the opportunity. Taphorn opened the last stanza with a basket and free throw, cutting West’s lead to 42-26 at 7:13, and Lohmann’s layup at 5:22 cut West’s lead to 45-28.

“In the first half, I thought our older players were competing hard,” Mott said. “(But) the start of the third quarter killed us. That was it. In the first three or four minutes of the third quarter, the game was over.

“I was just disappointed that we weren’t more competitive to start that third quarter,” Mott said.

Normal WestDespite his team’s record to this point, Mott said he still has a goal of making sure the Dragons make it to – and through – their regional game, come tournament time.

West head coach Brian Cupples also saw the third quarter’s action as “being the key to the game.”

Cupples said his team “saw some things that (Pekin) was doing to us defensively, and our defense was really good for us the whole night, which gave us the lead, kept us in the lead, and then, helped extend it, and then we executed a little bit offensively in the third quarter.”

PCHS’ junior varsity began the night on a down note, losing to West, 36-28. The Dragons resume conference action against Morton Tuesday night.

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